Today we’re launching a new series of posts where we take a deep breath and delve into the terrible world of parents who don’t know what their kids are doing with their tablets. We’re going to focus first on one of the most-used sites that unfortunately has started to displace the proper reading of articles on the Internet: YouTube. So what exactly is a YouTuber? Who is PewPewDie? How can you manage the videos your kids are watching?
YouTube for dummies
YouTube is a video-hosting site owned by Google. Now 10 years old, it’s currently the third most-visited website in the world after only Google itself and Facebook. What it offers is quite simple: a service to upload your videos and view videos from other users. The stats at the global level are dizzying: 300 minutes of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the current holder of the title for most views is the one and only Gangnam Style with more than 2.5 billion views.
YouTube has a space for everything, from movie trailers and music videos to home videos of bloopers or yammering cats. But where the site has really made its mark is in the rise of the YouTuber phenomenon, made up of people who share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with viewers, in most cases talking directly to the camera and using their own image to market themselves.
The success of YouTubers is intimately related with gaming, which is the main subject of the videos posted by the most successful of these new Internet celebs. It’s VERY likely that your kid follows PewPewDie, who is among the top 1 YouTube accounts in the world in terms of number of followers, with more than 39 million subscribers. (Note: Besides viewing videos freely, a user can ‘subscribe’ to a channel to stay up to date on all their new posts.) A big chunk of YouTubers simply narrate their experiences while they play games live, which some call doing a gameplay; but the idea is extensible to any other topic and there are also super-famous channels about makeup, science, or basically anything else you can think of.
How to keep your kids from viewing adult content
YouTube follows rigid (and sometimes questionable) norms of decorum when it comes to allowing the posting of adult content, whether for excessive violence, material of a sexual nature, or any other third-party complaint, including those related to copyright infringement. Even still, when someone uploads a video, they can mark it as for adults only. In this case, the user who tries to access the content must be of the appropriate age and must be browsing via their Google account.
Let’s dig into the details: YouTube can be visited in several ways, with the main ones being via its official webpage (http://www.youtube.com) or by downloading its official app. In both cases you can enable the so-called Restricted Mode, an option to hide videos with adult content. In the case of Android you need to go to the settings menu within the app by tapping the ellipsis button in the upper right part of the screen. There you’ll access the General section and tick the switch beside Restricted Mode. In the case of the browser version you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the screen, where you’ll see that button alongside the language options.
Could YouTube be damaging to your kids?
Short answer: ABSOLUTELY. Long answer: like anything related to raising kids, the key to success lies in knowing how to guide them to content that will be interesting and beneficial to them. And just limiting the amount of time they’re using it every day is plain silly if during that time they’re learning. There are all sorts of educational channels on YouTube, many of them aimed explicitly at kids. The key is in looking for interesting channels and getting a list of interesting subscriptions that go beyond skanky video clips, YouTubers doing gameplays, and montages of people falling over.